Dentist Medical Diagnoses

Did you know that your dentist can catch the early signs of diabetes and heart disease by examining your teeth and gums? Bleeding gums and other oral health issues often indicate a larger problem, which is why it’s important to see your dentist every six months for a routine teeth cleaning and oral examination.

In this blog post, the Grand Rapids dentist at Complete Health Dentistry will explain how medical conditions that affect other parts of your body can also affect your oral health. Keep in mind that the information in this post is not meant to replace seeing your family dentist or primary care physician. If you have a health concern, we recommend scheduling an appointment with your health care provider.

1.) Diabetes

Diabetes decreases your body’s resistance to infection, which is why many patients with diabetes also have periodontal disease (advanced gum disease). Gum disease is caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that builds up on your teeth and gums. The best way to remove plaque is to see your dentist for teeth cleanings every six months and maintain a good oral hygiene routine. If dental plaque is allowed to accumulate, it will increase your risk for cavities, receding gums, and tooth loss.

If you have a family history of diabetes, you’ll want to discuss how to prevent gum disease with your dentist. Your dentist can tell you the symptoms of gum disease so you can protect your oral health. Studies have suggested that patients who don’t have their diabetes under control are more at risk for periodontal disease. Research into the link between diabetes and periodontal disease also suggests that periodontal disease makes it difficult for people with diabetes to control their blood sugar.

2.) Heart Disease

Researchers have discovered a connection between heart disease and periodontal disease. As gum health in study participants improved, so did the health of their arteries. However, as gum health worsened, arteries hardened and narrowed, which restricted blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body.

If you have periodontal disease, it’s important to understand how your oral health affects the rest of your body. While there currently isn’t enough evidence to support that gum disease causes heart disease (or vice versa), research has shown a connection. Periodontal disease can aggravate heart disease when gum-borne bacteria enter the bloodstream.

3.) Mouth and Throat Cancers

Did you know that two-thirds of throat cancer cases are caused by oral human papillomavirus (HPV)? While most types of HPV are resolved without treatment, DNA from HPV-16 has been found in throat cancer. Mouth and throat cancers can also be caused by smoking or abusing alcohol, which are other health concerns. Your family dentist will be able to do an oral cancer screening to catch mouth cancer in its early stages, giving you the best chance of survival.

4.) Osteoporosis

Our bones become brittle as we age, and our teeth and jawbones are no exceptions. It’s not uncommon for patients with osteoporosis to have loose teeth and receding gum lines. These are signs that their jawbone tissue may be deteriorating. Jawbone tissue needs stimulation from tooth roots, which is why losing one tooth increases your risk of losing subsequent teeth. As jawbone tissue deteriorates, teeth are more likely to fall out.

5.) Eating Disorders

While people who have eating disorders are obviously aware of their actions, sometimes their behavior is purposely concealed from health care providers. A dentist will be able to recognize the signs of an eating disorder from the condition of the patient’s teeth and gums.

Common signs of an eating disorder include sensitive teeth, bleeding gums, and dry mouth. The sooner a health care provider is able to recognize the signs of an eating disorder, the sooner that patient can get the help they need.

Dr. Ritzema DDS at Complete Health Dentistry understands how the health of your teeth and gums relates to other health concerns. If you are interested in scheduling a dental exammouth cancer screening, or professional teeth cleaning, give our dentist in Grand Rapids, MI a call at (616) 458-7267.

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